Earl Warren

Earl Warren (March 19, 1891 – July 9, 1974) was an American jurist and politician who served as the 14th Chief Justice of the United States (1953–1969) and earlier as the 30th Governor of California (1943–1953). The Warren Court presided over a major shift in constitutional jurisprudence, with Warren writing the majority opinions in landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, Reynolds v. Sims, and Miranda v. Arizona. Warren also led the Warren Commission, a presidential commission that investigated the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He is as of 2019 the last Chief Justice to have served in an elected office. Warren was born in 1891 in Los Angeles and was raised in Bakersfield, California. After graduating from the law program at the University of California, Berkeley, he began a legal career in Oakland. He was hired as a deputy district attorney for Alameda County in 1920 and was appointed district attorney in 1925. He emerged as a leader of the state Republican Party and won election as the Attorney General of California in 1938. In that position, he played a role in the forced removal and internment of over 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. In the 1942 California gubernatorial election, Warren defeated incumbent Democratic governor Culbert Olson. He would serve as Governor of California until 1953, presiding over a period of major growth for the state. Warren served as Thomas E. Dewey's running mate in the 1948 presidential election, but Dewey lost the election to incumbent President Harry S. Truman. Warren sought the Republican nomination in the 1952 presidential election, but the party nominated General Dwight D. Eisenhower. After Eisenhower won election as president, he appointed Warren as Chief Justice. Warren helped arrange a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. After Brown, the Warren Court would continue to issue rulings that helped bring an end to the segregationist Jim Crow laws that were prevalent throughout the South. In Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, the Court upheld the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law that prohibits racial segregation in public institutions and public accommodations. In the 1960s, the Warren Court handed down several landmark rulings that transformed criminal procedure, redistricting, and other areas of the law. Many of the Court's decisions incorporated the Bill of Rights, making the protections of the Bill of Rights apply to state and local governments. Gideon v. Wainwright established a criminal defendant's right to an attorney in felony cases, while Miranda v. Arizona required police officers to give a warning to criminal suspects in police custody. Reynolds v. Sims established that all state legislative districts must be of roughly equal population, while the Court's holding in Wesberry v. Sanders required equal populations for congressional districts. Griswold v. Connecticut struck down a state law that restricted access to contraceptives and established a constitutional right to privacy. Warren announced his retirement in 1968, and was succeeded by conservative appellate judge Warren Burger. Though the Warren Court's rulings have received criticism from many conservatives, as well as from some other quarters, few of the Court's decisions have been overturned.


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